When it comes to strength training, I feel like people sometimes skip the fundamentals – i.e bodyweight – and go straight for lifting heavy ish. But it’s the basics that have the biggest impact in my opinion.
One move which is underrated is a push-up, which there are so many variations you can choose from to mix up your training. Today we’re gonna be chatting about all things decline push-ups and their benefits.
As with most movements, perfecting your form will ensure you get the most out of the exercise but also reduce your risk of injury. However, moving your body in a way that works for your body, is always the best way.
So let’s dive into decline push-ups benefits and how to do them, which’ll be a game-changer for your upper body strength and overall fitness.
What Are Decline Push-Ups?
Decline Push-Ups are a demanding variation, specifically a progression, of the standard push-up exercise. Basically, they involve you having your feet on an elevated surface, such as a bench or step (or the sofa for me) while your hands are on the ground.
The change in angle places greater emphasis on the specific muscle groups being worked, making it an effective upper body workout.
Compared to regular push-ups, decline push-ups differ in that they target the upper chest, front shoulders, and triceps. Regular push-ups are performed with hands and feet on the ground, primarily engaging the chest, triceps, and shoulders. An incline push-up, on the other hand, has hands elevated, and they work the lower chest and front deltoids.
The primary muscle groups engaged in decline push-ups include the upper chest (pectoralis major), front shoulders (anterior deltoids), triceps, and core muscles. To maintain a good position in decline push-ups (and standard push-ups to be fair) you do need a strong core for stability and balance.
Personally, I love decline push-ups for a bit of variety, and for a more unique and challenging way to work upper body muscles, than traditional push-ups.
Benefits of Decline Push-Ups
Other than variety, decline push-ups do have some other benefits. Plus they look cool, huh?!
First up, decline push-ups place more emphasis on the chest and shoulders which helps you to increase strength and definition if you’re looking for that, in these areas.
According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research decline push-ups were found to activate the upper chest significantly more than traditional push-ups, making them a valuable addition to your routine.
When it comes to core workouts, I do sometimes include push ups as when done properly, they utilise core engagement. The same can be said for decline push-ups; maintaining a stable and balanced position during decline push-ups requires a strong core.
As a result, this exercise can help enhance core engagement and improve your overall core strength. A strong core is essential for various functional movements and helps reduce the risk of injuries.
Decline push-ups challenge not only your overall strength but also your endurance. With the downward angle, you’re having to work against gravity, building stamina in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. This endurance can benefit various activities and sports, making you less fatigued during extended periods of upper body exertion.
Last but not least, as I previously mentioned, they also offer some versatility for your training routine. I’m gonna cover how to do decline push-ups next, then talk about how you can progress or regress them.
For example, you can adjust the intensity by altering the height of the surface where your feet are positioned. This versatility allows you to progress over time or modify the exercise to match your current fitness level, and also makes it a great exercise for all levels of strength and fitness.
How To Do Decline Push Ups
Start by placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground. Then position your feet on the elevated surface, ensuring they are hip-width apart. Your toes should be touching the surface, and your ankles should be flexed at a 90-degree angle.
Engage your core muscles to help you maintain a straight line from your head to your heels and keep this alignment throughout.
Check your wrists and hands are positioned directly under your shoulders and keep your head / neck in a neutral position. Spread your fingers wide to create a stable base and grip the ground for balance.
Inhale as you lower your chest towards the ground. Keep your core engaged.
Exhale as you push back up to the starting position, maintaining controlled breathing throughout.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
A few things to remember when performing this exercise include, not allowing your hips to sag which causes your back to arch excessively.
Try to avoid locking your elbows at the top of the movement to prevent joint strain and maintain a controlled pace. I like to aim for the same pace / count for the down and up phase of the movement.
How To Progress / Regress Your Decline Push-Ups
If you’re keen on a more advanced variation, maybe working up towards a handstand push-up, you can try using a higher surface to increase height of the decline or use an unstable surface like a stability ball.
This makes the decline pushup into an even more advanced upper body exercise so make sure you work within your capabilities.
In order to regress the movement, you can of course choose a lower surface and / or move to having your knees on the surface instead of toes which reduces the length of the lever (it’s all science friends!).
More Decline Push-Up Variations To Try
Incase decline push-ups aren’t crazy enough for you, here are some other variations you need to try:
- Diamond Decline Push-Ups:
- Decline Pike Push-Ups
- Single-Leg Decline Push-Ups
- Wide Stance Decline Push-Ups
- Elevated Push-Up with Knee Tucks
- Decline Push-Up with Leg Raise
Diamond decline push-ups intensifies the focus on your triceps and inner chest. Hands are positioned close together under your chest, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers.
Decline pike push-ups primarily target the shoulders and can be a great addition to your shoulder workout. These are done in a decline press-up position but with hips piked upward.
Single-Leg decline push-ups add more core engagement by increasing instability. In turn this improves balance and core strength. In this decline variation, one foot is elevated while the other remains on the raised platform.
The wide stance decline push-up places extra emphasis on the outer chest and shoulders. Hands are positioned wider apart than shoulder-width and your feet hip-width apart.
For the elevated push-up with knee tucks, perform a decline push-up and then, during the upward phase, bring one knee toward your chest. This adds a dynamic core workout element.
A decline push-up with leg raise adds a bit more of a lower body focus into the movement by engaging the glutes and lower back muscles. Simply perform a decline pushup followed by raising one leg off the elevated surface.
Incorporating Decline Push-Ups Into Your Fitness Routine
To be fair, plenty of people challenge themselves with daily push-ups so there’s no reason you couldn’t do the same with decline push-ups. Depending on your strength level, you can start with 10 each day (for 6 days a week with one rest day) and then add 10 more each week.
You can also use them as part of an upper body workout, for example by adding them to these 3 Exercises to Strengthen Your Arms, Shoulders & Core to make an upper body circuit.
Reckon you’re gonna add decline pushups to your workout routine?! Or were you already a fan? Drop a comment below to share your thoughts. If there’s another move you’re keen to master, I’d love to know!
P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP.